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Pope Francis Visits Bosnia-Herzegovina


Pope Francis is visiting Bosnia-Herzgovina, where about 100,000 people are expected to greet him.

The Pope’s visit to the capital Sarajevo is aimed at prompting peace and reconciliation across Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The pontiff, who arrived today in the country, will hold a Mass at a Sarajevo stadium and also meet members of the Muslim, Orthodox Christian and Jewish communities.

Bosnia remains divided along religious and ethnic lines, 20 years after its civil war.Pope Francis visits Bosnia Herzegovina

Cardinal Vinko Puljic urged people of all faiths to “keep their ears and hearts open for the pope’s message”.

“We have put a lot of love into the preparations for the visit,” he said.

“The city is radiating joy.”

The war between Christian Orthodox Serbs and Muslim Bosniaks in the early 90s resulted in deep ethnic divisions.

Pope Francis will attempt to bolster reconciliation, by encouraging communities to come together.

In a message to the residents of Sarajevo earlier this week, Pope Francis wrote: “I come amongst you… to express my support for ecumenical and interfaith dialogue, and above all to encourage peaceful cohabitation in your country.”

At least 5,000 police will be on duty and authorities have published a helpline number if members of the public spot any suspicious activity during the visit.

On June 5, local media reported jihadists claiming to be from Islamic State had issued a video, calling for action in the Balkans. However, it is not thought to be linked to the papal visit.

Eighteen years ago, Pope John Paul II travelled to Sarajevo during a severe snowstorm in 1997. A monument was erected in the late pontiff’s honor in 2014.

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